"How is it...that you survived?" The fellow asked Mona. The man's voice was cold, as if it could freeze Mona to death. His gaze was unkind, a hint of anger within them.
Mona felt the voice was familiar, but wasn't able to tell who this man was. After all, it's been several days, and all he cared about were Reithar and the Varlier siblings.
"A mere Mortal would have starved to death," the figure's rage could be felt in his words as he continued.
"But you, you managed to live until now...HOW?" The figure walked in an arc back and forth in front of Mona, his steps heavy. Those footsteps echoed throughout the dungeons.
"And now...what will I tell him?" The guard looked off into the distance, a bit of terror flashing through his eyes, thinking about the past. How can I even explain this?
Mona was still trying to awaken, his view of the figure gradually becoming more clear. The sand in his eyes irritated Mona as he concentrated his vision on this guard. Who is this guard?
The guard dashed towards Mona, his fingers gripping him by the jaw. Mona didn't bother with the slight pain coming from his mouth. He looked at this fellow in the eyes, their faces just a few inches away from each other.
"You're so lucky...that I can't kill you. With him watching me, how can I dare to? If I even cut you, I could be executed. Now all my plans are ruined. RUINED." The man's grip became tighter, awakening Mona completely. His anger filled his brow as the figure used his grip to throw Mona against the wall.
"Urk..." Mona felt great pain arc across his spine. As his body fell to the ground, he took several deep breaths to calm himself down.
By now the figure had left the cell, locked it tight once again, and walked back to the entrance of the Thorn Dungeons. His steps were heavy and quick. When the man left near the entrance, he yelled at the guard on duty. His words echoed back.
"HOW DID HE LIVE? TELL ME THIS INSTANT? WHY IS THE MORTAL STILL ALIVE?"
The guard at his station whimpered, wondering where did he go wrong. He himself knew a mortal could not survive 72 hours without water, or 96 hours without food. He assumed that Mona would be dead as well, and didn't bother to check. Inside his heart, he was in shock that such a frail figure had been able to survive past Mortal limits.
Did he...no it can't be. He has the Mortal Curse! The guard couldn't find a reason to explain why Mona was still alive. The child was diseased with one of the worst illnesses in the Madrag Continent, yet he managed to live to this day.
He knew that Mona was placed next to an Aura practitioner named Jaspen from Rosalin, but even if Mona had been filled to the brim with Aura, he would only be able to survive this way for an additional 12 hours.
All things had a limit, and Mortal bodies that were not able to train in Aura would have a limit to how much hunger and thirst can be fulfilled by Aura infusions. He couldn't make out how Mona had lived this long at all.
But the entrance guard didn't dare explain to the guard in front of him. The fellow in front of him was famous among all of the guards, and also had strength that exceeded his own. Furthermore, this figure outranked him on several levels, and was among the few that managed complaints in the Alberdan Army in this prison. This is why when he was beaten heavily by the figure, all he could do was plead for mercy and forgiveness.
Seeing the figure leave, the entrance guard looked at his wounds. Blood leaked out wherever he was punched and trampled. A few of his ribs were in deep pain. The bone fragments were still lodged inside. Why....why why why... No one could answer him as he cried at his post.
His gaze fell back towards the dungeons, anger rising in his brow. If it wasn't for that Mortal... The guard had already disliked nobles, and especially those that came from the Aurum bloodline. But now, Mona had pushed him to a higher level.
Sadly, the guard at his station couldn't do anything to Mona. The Warden had plans for this former noble from the Leafwind Kingdom, and if that frail body died from his blows...
He gulped at the thought of facing the Warden, Mona's body placed in front of him as he explained to the Warden why the child had died under his watch.
I hate him...but that's suicide! The guard couldn't do anything and sighed. He practiced his Auric technique, using the Aura to mend his body back to before. He winced whenever a stabbing feeling came from reconnecting his ribs.
Jaspen was forced to watch that guard open the cell. He could feel the anger of the guard as he walked around Mona and then flinging him at the wall. And he knew who he was.
"Noble Aurum, are you alright?" Jaspen asked Mona from his side of the cell, waiting for a reply.
"Jaspen, I'm fine...I know who that guard is....he was the guard that brought me to the yard that day..." Mona spoke to Jaspen in between his breaths as he tried to calm down. Mona remembered that gruesome scar on the man's arm. Why was he here?
"Noble Aurum, his name is Ardor. He is the head of the guards in Darknorth Prison. As for why he came down to the Thorn Dungeons, I don't know. All I can tell is that you being alive made him furious." Jaspen was curious about why Ardor would appear here. Was something happening above ground?
Mona remembered how this guard looked at him, their faces right next to each other. He didn't know what he had done wrong. All that he could remember from before entering the dungeons was the fight against Taizen and his men. Was I supposed to be dead?
The idea didn't seem too off. With the way he was thrown into this dungeon and charged with a punishment for no clear reason, it made sense. Why would I have to be dead?
Mona knew there were a variety of reasons that someone would want him to die, but he wasn't sure what it was, or who it was. After all, Ardor was the head of the guards, not the Warden. For all Mona knew, someone much higher in the chain of command might want him to die. Sigh. One after another.
"Noble Aurum, I'd like to ask you something." Jaspen hesitated at first, but then spoke to Mona.
"Go ahead Jaspen. I'll answer anything if I'm able to." Mona replied, waiting on Jaspen.
Jaspen Arkway thought back to the events of the previous night and sighed. I have to ask him.
"Mona, last night when you went asleep, I was watching you go to sleep. After fifteen minutes, your left hand...a mark appeared." Jaspen spoke to Mona, his voice grave.
Alarmed by the shift in his voice, Mona asked. "What was it?"
"It was a mark. It came up on your left hand. I couldn't tell what it was, nor have I seen anything like it before as a blacksmith. It was vague, but it was on the back of your palm, and seemed like there were several snakes under your skin." Jaspen told Mona of what he saw in the cell. His face was as confused as Mona.
"A mark?" Mona looked to his left hand, to the back of his palm. What did Jaspen see?
"The mark was vague, but it gave off a feeling. A deep and profound feeling that touched me inside. It felt like that of a Sovereign descending to this world. It was filled with ancientness, and hid various feelings, as if it stored the stories of people from before us. I wanted to tell you, but you went into a slumber, so I waited until morning. I couldn't tell you earlier because of Ardor, but that mark...it scared me, Mona. It scared me."
Jaspen made sure Mona could hear his words. He feared Mona had contracted more than one illness. More than the Mortal Curse.
After all, the Leafwind Kingdom was a small kingdom on a continent surrounded by water on three sides. Its last side faced a massive sea dotted with islands of various sizes that connected to other continents. And beyond this world, few knew what was.
It wouldn't be rare for an illness to strike humanity that no one knew. Plagues had always dotted history, followed by overthrown kingdoms, war, and more illness. It wasn't until recently that knowledge had been spread to the Madrag Continent that cured those plagues.
Jaspen pitied the young noble. Two, or perhaps more diseases in one frail child. A child that may not even live long enough to have children of his own. To challenge the world. To temper himself. A child now chained as his own cellmate to rot away in his youth. How can life be so cruel?
Mona didn't understand what Jaspen was talking about. The last thing he remembered from the night before was seeing his Mortal Curse reduced by about half an inch. Then he went to sleep, trying his best to remain comfortable. But with the frigid floor and his terrible clothing he couldn't stay comfortable with his body chained.
Mona examined his body, looking for what Jaspen had seen before. He looked at his left hand, forming a fist and releasing it several times over. He paid close attention to inside his hand. He couldn't feel anything.
What was it? Mona took a moment to think of a solution. I got it! I'll use Aura.
Mona remembered that vague silhouette he saw absorb the natural Aura of the planet and return a much more pure strand of Aura. The silhouette would then grow more clear. Perhaps that thing in his left hand was the cause for the mark.
Mona practiced the Primal Fold technique, gaining Jaspen's attention. Why is he training in Aura now? Didn't that mark appear after training in the first place? Jaspen was about to ask Mona, but then he saw Mona's face light up with joy.
Mona had gathered several dozens of strands of Aura, merging them together into a string as thick as a piece of yarn. He guided it with his consciousness towards his left hand.
As the strand was absorbed by that small shape in Mona's hand, it flickered, sending out waves that seemed like only Mona could feel. His hand shuddered with the movements.
Jaspen was confused with Mona's actions. What is he doing?
When the waves settled, Mona returned his consciousness to inside his palm. Right there in his flesh was a bubble. This bubble looked like it was always part of his hand. It vibrated in place, but didn't seem to affect his hand in any way.
Mona's gaze wasn't focused on this pocket in his hand. He was staring in shock at what floated inside of the bubble.
Right there inside of the bubble rotated a piece of clothing. It seemed thin and had signs of wear. It gave off the feeling of being from an era long before Mona's existence, its original owner must have been a formidable existence, as the clothing was tinged with his might.
But that was not what surprised Mona. It was that Mona recognized this piece of fabric.
That's....that's the Aurum family's Ancestral Cloak!